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History & Key Facts

Opel history and key facts

Opel is one of Europe’s largest automakers. It was founded by Adam Opel in 1862 in Rüsselsheim, Germany.


In the beginning, Opel just produced sewing machines in a cowshed in Rüsselsheim. Encouraged by success, Adam Opel launched a new product in 1886: he began to sell high-wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings. At the time of Opel’s death in 1895, he was the leader in both markets.


After listening to the advice of her sons Carl, Wilhelm and Friedrich, Sophie Opel decided to start producing cars in 1899 – four years after the death of company founder Adam Opel. Thus Opel joined the ranks of the automotive pioneers of the late 19th century that include Daimler, Benz and Peugeot. In the spring of 1899, the first of 65 hand-made Opel Patentmotorwagen "System Lutzmann" is built in Rüsselsheim.

What started in a garage in Rüsselsheim, has today become a mass phenomenon with more than 70 million vehicles built to date.


Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall sell over one million vehicles annually, one of Europe's largest passenger car brands.

Headquartered in Rüsselsheim, the company has 10 plants and four development and test centers in six European countries. Opel employs around 35,600 people in Europe, with more than 18,250 in Germany. Opel and Vauxhall are present in over 50 countries.


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